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grandmother’s graduation triumph of human spirit

Christchurch grandmother’s graduation a triumph of the human spirit

Lesley Tyzack’s graduation from the University of Canterbury yesterday (Tuesday) was a triumph of the human spirit.

Paralysed from the neck down by multiple sclerosis, the 56-year-old mother and grandmother began studying for her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1996.

At the time she was terrified of going to university on her own, in her chin-controlled wheelchair.

“I was frightened by the thought of what might happen when I left my four safe walls.

“I can’t look around me to see where I’m going when I’m using the chin control so I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find my way around the campus, something which is still a problem even after all these years.”

When Lesley wasn’t on campus she was working at home on her voice-activated computer, which is fixed to a workstation at the end of her bed.

Now that she has completed her university studies she will use the computer for her next project – writing a crime novel.

Lesley says her graduation is the end of an era.

“A whole section of my life has come to an end. I’ve been reborn as a completely new person.”

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